General: US could put ground troops in Libya

Yesterday, I wrote about General Carter Ham’s briefing for Congress in which he admitted that the NATO operation had essentially produced a stalemate in Libya.  Later, CBS updated the story to add a politically explosive element:

The United States may consider sending troops into Libya with a possible international ground force that could aid the rebels, according to the general who led the military mission until NATO took over.

Army Gen. Carter Ham also told lawmakers Thursday that added American participation would not be ideal, and ground troops could erode the international coalition and make it more difficult to get Arab support for operations in Libya. …

The use of an international ground force is a possible plan to bolster rebels fighting forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Ham said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Asked if the U.S. would provide troops, Ham said, “I suspect there might be some consideration of that. My personal view at this point would be that that’s probably not the ideal circumstance, again for the regional reaction that having American boots on the ground would entail.”

Until now, the White House has categorically promised that no ground troops would go into Libya.  Barack Obama himself stated clearly that not only would the US not put boots on the ground, Obama would eventually pull out of leadership on the mission altogether.  The US withdrew its attack jets on Monday as part of that pledge.

Interestingly, this has produced almost no coverage in the media, outside of CBS.  A New York Times search for “Carter Ham” produces only two articles in the past 30 days, neither of which references yesterday’s briefing.   The Washington Post published an AP report on Ham’s testimony on their web site, and another AP report on the NATO “friendly fire” incident included a reference to it, but that also appears to be web-only.  The Los Angeles Times didn’t report it at all, only printing a Bloomberg wire report on the economic impact of the war on oil.

Remember when the media indulged in self-flaggelation over the Iraq War and their supposed lack of skeptical reporting?

The idea of engaging in a ground war in Libya should have Congress very concerned, especially since we don’t know the nature of our allies.  The CIA was supposedly rushing an analysis of the rebels so that we can determine whether NATO bombing is helping liberal democrats or radical Islamists, both of which appear to comprise at least part of the revolts.  Instead, we seem to be rushing to intervene in a situation we don’t understand, and may well end up putting American soldiers and Marines on the same side as the enemies we’re fighting in Afghanistan.